Duncan Campbell Scott

Addresses‚ Essays‚ and Reviews

Review of L. Adams Beck, The Ninth Vibration


The title of L. Adams Beck’s new book promises delight of an unusual kind and does not disappoint the reader.  After finishing the last page he can look back to the title with much the same satisfaction that a prophet feels when a prophesy has been fulfilled, which is assuredly an infrequent satisfaction.  “The Ninth Vibration” is the title of the second longest story in the book and lends its name to the whole volume, but it is more than that; the other eight vibrations may be important, doubtless they are, but the ninth is a supreme state of mind or soul, and whether the gifted author intended it or not, it pervades and elevates the whole book.  These tales are tales of India told by a master of Eastern cult, by a master-mind that has brooded long on the subtle mysteries of the orient, by a master-heart whose tenderness is strong enough to interpret that ancient and most mysterious life.  Yet there is nothing obscure or recondite in the book; readers of The Atlantic Monthly and the other periodicals in which several of the stories appeared will remember the interest they aroused by their novelty as well as their beauty.  In the first two, the longest stories in the book, there is a mingling of western with eastern thought, a clashing, if that is not too strong a word, for the contact in both cases is through the affections and the eastern thought and aspiration absorbs the western.  The prototypes of the latter are captivated by a more powerful idea and become content to await the unfolding of destiny through long ages of preparation rather than grasp at an undeveloped happiness.  There is manifold beauty and varying depth in both these tales—beauty in description of the sublime scenery of the Himalaya Mountains and the entrancing scenery of the Valley of Kashmir, and depths in the delineation of the emotions and experiences of the few characters whose development is so absorbing.  But to the reviewer the other [page 320] stories, there are six, are more important.  Here we have, without any intrusion, the pure product of the West; here is no tax on our credulity, for the tales although marvelous and dream-like in their beauty are of one weave, consistently of one invention, and we seem to be overhearing some oriental story-teller, oblivious of all our western follies, entertaining a circle of his own people, entertaining and fascinating us as well.
     For it will be no easy task to disclose a more fascinating story than “The Incomparable Lady”; or a more touching than the “Building of the Taj Mahal”; or a more moving and tragical than “The Hatred of the Queen”; or one more delicately, lightly humorous than “The Round Faced Beauty.”  If these tales are original inventions they are marvelously invented, and if they are legendary tales retold they are marvelously retold; but I fancy they are original.  It is indeed cheering to know that such work is being produced here; work that is important and authoritative, and we welcome it not only because of these facts but because it introduces a new atmosphere and therefore makes for variety.  We know it to be a competent and beautiful book and we are neither glad nor sorry that there is nothing specially Canadian about it.  We know that it is a real addition to our literature and that is all we are concerned with.  As if to emphasize the fact that the book is a product of Canada, the author has added to his signature, beneath the usual acknowledgment to the publishers of the periodical in which the stories first appeared, the word Canada, thus—“L. Adams Beck, Canada.”  We would commend this course to our writers as it nationalizes our production and puts the word Canada where it ought to be more frequently, on works of art and literature. [page 321]


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